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Impaired Prefrontal Synaptic Gain in People with Psychosis and Their Relatives during the Mismatch Negativity

Ranlund, S., Adams, R. A., Diez, A. , Constante, M., Dutt, A., Hall, M-H., Carbayo, A. M., McDonald, C., Petrella, S., Schulze, K., Shaikh, M., Walshe, M., Friston, K. J., Pinotsis, D. A. ORCID: 0000-0002-6865-8103 & Bramon, E. (2015). Impaired Prefrontal Synaptic Gain in People with Psychosis and Their Relatives during the Mismatch Negativity. Human Brain Mapping, 37(1), pp. 351-365. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23035


The mismatch negativity (MMN) evoked potential, a preattentive brain response to a discriminable change in auditory stimulation, is significantly reduced in psychosis. Glutamatergic theories of psychosis propose that hypofunction of NMDA receptors (on pyramidal cells and inhibitory interneurons) causes a loss of synaptic gain control. We measured changes in neuronal effective connectivity underlying the MMN using dynamic causal modeling (DCM), where the gain (excitability) of superficial pyramidal cells is explicitly parameterised. EEG data were obtained during a MMN task—for 24 patients with psychosis, 25 of their first‐degree unaffected relatives, and 35 controls—and DCM was used to estimate the excitability (modeled as self‐inhibition) of (source‐specific) superficial pyramidal populations. The MMN sources, based on previous research, included primary and secondary auditory cortices, and the right inferior frontal gyrus. Both patients with psychosis and unaffected relatives (to a lesser degree) showed increased excitability in right inferior frontal gyrus across task conditions, compared to controls. Furthermore, in the same region, both patients and their relatives showed a reversal of the normal response to deviant stimuli; that is, a decrease in excitability in comparison to standard conditions. Our results suggest that psychosis and genetic risk for the illness are associated with both context‐dependent (condition‐specific) and context‐independent abnormalities of the excitability of superficial pyramidal cell populations in the MMN paradigm. These abnormalities could relate to NMDA receptor hypofunction on both pyramidal cells and inhibitory interneurons, and appear to be linked to the genetic aetiology of the illness, thereby constituting potential endophenotypes for psychosis.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2015 The Authors Human BrainMapping Published byWiley Periodicals, Inc. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: psychosis; schizophrenia; unaffected relatives; genetic risk; effective connectivity; dynamic causal modeling; DCM; cortical excitability; cortical gain; NMDA receptor
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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